Judgment day for HJC defectors

Three years after five Haryana Janhit Congress MLAs defected to the ruling Congress, the Haryana Assembly Speaker will finally a deliver a judgment on their fate on Sunday (January 13), pursuant to a Supreme Court order.

The apex court had set the the deadline for Speaker Kuldeep Sharma to decide on the petitions filed by HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi demanding disqualification of the five legislators, includimg Satpal Sangwan, Vinod Bhyana, Rao Narender Singh, Dharam Pal Chhoker and Zile Ram Sharma.

Bishnoi had sought their disqualification on the ground that their joining the Congress was in violation of the provisions of the Anti-Defection Act. The HJC had won six seats in the October 13 polls to the 90-member Haryana Assembly in which Congress had returned with 40 seats, six short of a simple majority.

It roped in all seven Independent legislators and the lone Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) member to secure the numbers. The five HJC legislators also then left their party and joined the Congress.

While Sangwan and Rao Narender were taken in as cabinet ministers, Bhyana and Sharma were installed as Chief Parliamentary Secretaries by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda

Under the provisions of the anti-defection law, any one legislator quitting the party on whose ticket he/she has won the election and joining another is disqualified and unseated from the legislature.

Defection by the MLAs is now new to Haryana where a legislator, Gaya Lal, shifted sides thrice within 24 hours way back in 1967 thus earning the state the ignominious title of the land of 'Aya Ram, Gaya Ram.'

In 1991, former Speaker Harmohinder Singh Chatha had disqualified three legislators from Assembly, reducing the Om Prakash Chautala to a minority and paving the way for the President's rule.

Chatha after passing the judgment soon joined the Congress and the next year, former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal regained power in the state. Perhaps Bhajan Lal was then oblivious of the fact that one day he would also face a similar scenario in the Speaker's court and would be disqualified. But it happened in 2004 when the Congress made Bhupinder Singh Hooda the chief minister ignoring Bhajan Lal's claim to the chair.

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